We were lucky enough to have a chat with LCF Alumna and award winning footwear designer, Alexander White. In perfect timing with the arrival of our new 2019 students, Alexander has given his advice on anyone looking to study footwear here at LCF.
Hi Alexander! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. How’s everything going?
Everything is great, thanks! We’ve just finished the season and are having a little break whilst the factories are closed for their summer holidays. A little quiet before the storm of September and of fashion month.
Congratulations on your feature in Vogue too – I bet that was as great feeling. How does it feel to be named one of the best London shoe designers by Vogue?
It’s so lovely to be considered one of the best London shoe designers. We have worked so hard to growing the brand and a little nod from Vogue just assures us we’re going in the right direction.
How would you describe your brand’s style in 3 words?
Chic. Confident. Young.
Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?
Inspiration comes from all around. One of our signatures: the Brianna, was inspired by some silk wallpaper at my family home. Whilst another, the Camille paper-bag boot was from eating a bagel on Brick Lane. I was holding the paper bag in my hand and noticed that the top looked really interesting; all gathered with a serrated edge, and I thought, “Could I make this into a shoe?”. I went back to work immediately, furiously sketched and taped leather to a last, and it evolved into the boot, which in turn evolved into our Issey ruffle mule.
What’s your next personal goal to achieve?
We have a top-secret project on the go at the moment which is very close to my heart. We have been working on it for almost eighteen months now and it is almost ready to show to our retailers in September. I’m so excited about it and I find myself getting told off, as I just want to tell people about it.
What excites you the most about the future of the industry?
Right now, the fashion industry is going through this seismic change, which I think is very exciting. We all hear about the doom and gloom of the retail apocalypse, and yes, it is a very tough environment right now but I was raised to believe there is opportunity in change. Traditional retailers have struggled to evolve with the consumer’s shopping behaviour but that has enabled smaller, younger brands to gain a footing in the market, pioneering pop-ups and direct to consumer business models. In terms of design, advancements in material technology is incredible and there are so many new things going on in that sphere that excite me.
Let’s talk a little bit about your time at LCF. Did you always know you wanted to work in fashion?
I had planned to be an architect and originally hadn’t considered fashion. I had already done one degree before coming to LCF and had dipped my toe into the industry; doing a bit of fashion PR. It was during that time that I realised I wanted to study footwear design and to learn how shoes are made. So, I researched where all of the best footwear designers had trained, which turned out to be LCF Cordwainers. I applied, and luckily got in!
What advice would you give to a prospective student looking to study Footwear here in September?
I had been asked to speak last year at JPS about the industry and what students and graduates can expect and my advice is the same now. Fashion is a competitive industry and truly is one where you will only succeed with both passion and determination. Utilise your time on the course to find out who you want to be as a designer. Take advantage of the incredible knowledge of the tutors, the access to machinery and the hundreds of books in the library. I used to sit on the floor with a pile of books for hours and just absorb the pages. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to make mistakes: innovation can come through error. But most importantly, have fun.